FX’s latest hit series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson wrapped up its first season this week with the episode, “The Verdict.” As indicated by the title, the episode focused on the closing arguments, as well as the jury deliberations and the aftermath of the verdict announcement.
Shortly into the episode we see the two sides, the prosecution, and the defense, discussing the last steps that need to be taken with Judge Ito before the jury is presented with the closing arguments. During this, the defense confirms that O.J. will not be speaking in front of the jury – thus, he will not be cross-examined by the prosecution. However, Johnnie does use the freedom of speech in America argument to convince Ito to let O.J. make a few comments in the courtroom while the jurors are not present. Subsequently, Marcia objects, as she addresses the public spectacle the trial has become and the inevitability of whatever O.J. says somehow getting passed on to the jurors. Nonetheless, Ito decides to let O.J. have a few minutes to state his own feelings. Here, he strategically points out his superior faith (in contrast to the prosecution team’s) in the jurors to maintain their integrity while coming up with a verdict.
Shortly after, the two sides once again meet up in the courtroom, except this time the jury members join them. Marcia begins the closing arguments, where she utilizes a diagram that explicitly shows all of the different pieces of physical evidence that they were able to recover from the crime scene – all of which she claims to connect O.J. to the murders. She then goes on to try and get the jurors to realize how much fluff the defense team has employed in an attempt to distract them from the hard facts. Marcia points out that on numerous occasions the defense team presented conflicting arguments. For example, some of their witnesses and statements were made to paint the police officers to be “dumb bimbos.” In contrast, plenty of their other points were focused on just how elaborate of a set-up the police had pulled to ensure O.J. was found guilty. One of the most powerful parts of Marcia’s closing argument is when she addresses Mark Fuhrman. Here she openly admits that while she agrees he is not only a bad police officer but also a bad human being, she believes his racist ways has no relevance to O.J.’s guilt.
After Marcia finishes her closing argument her co-prosecutor, Chris Darden takes the stand and addresses the jury. In contrast to Marcia, Chris focuses on painting a timeline of O.J.’s history of abuse. Chris refers to him as a “ticking time bomb,” as he recounts the numerous times Nicole called the police in the past after Simpson physically beat her. Chris, who was well aware of O.J.’s celebrity, ended his argument admitting that while the defendant may be good at football – he is still a murderer.
Throughout the 10 episodes of the show Courtney B. Vance has given a very impressive performance in the role of head defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. However, I think it’s safe to say that he really took it to another level in this final episode. During his portrayal of Johnnie’s closing argument, Courtney fully embodied the lawyer’s infamous charisma and strategic wording. Johnnie is seen picking apart all of the evidence that the prosecution heavily relied on, as it all led back to one man: Mark Fuhrman. Unfortunately for the prosecution, this is a man who openly admitted he would do whatever it took to arrest a black man who was romantically linked with a white woman (i.e. O.J. and Nicole). Of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without Johnnie exclaiming to the jurors, “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Next, the jury is seen being escorted to a secluded room to start their deliberations. Immediately they decide to do a blind vote to get a read on where everyone is at in terms of the verdict. Subsequently, they determine that everyone believes O.J. deserves to be acquitted except for 2 people. While this prompts some fiery discussion, it quickly becomes apparent that the people supporting acquittal (majority) are not willing to budge or even hear out the other side. Thus, after being isolated from their family, friends and the public for months on end, the jurors that initially voted guilty decide to conform to the rest of the group. It is then announced that a verdict has been determined after just 4 hours of deliberation amongst the jury members.
After the verdict is read allowed, the show features clips of the evident racial divide amongst the viewing public. While much of the black community is seen overjoyed with the shocking result, white audience members are obviously discouraged by the jury’s final decision.
Expectedly, all of the prosecution team is visibly shaken by the verdict. However, one surprise turn of events comes as O.J.’s former best friend Rob Kardashian is seen dashing to the court bathroom and throwing up. It is later revealed that by the end of the trial Rob no longer believed O.J. was innocent. In fact, the duo’s friendship completely deteriorated after the trial.
The last scene is probably the most emotional of all. The Goldmans (family of victim Ron Goldman) are seen entering their car as they leave the courthouse following the verdict. Once they get in, the radio turns on, and they listen as the host is heard explaining that the police are surprised that people aren’t rioting (like during the Rodney King trial). In contrast, the host goes on to state that most people are seemingly celebrating O.J.’s acquittal – thus (in the perspective of the Goldmans) celebrating the freeing of their beloved Ron’s murderer.